War and Economic Crimes Court Campaigners Want Pres. Joe Biden Demand the Establishment of the Court in Liberia
MONROVIA – Witnesses at a US congressional hearing on the establishment of war and economic crimes court have recommended several measures to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission that would send a strong signal to the government of Liberia on its stance on the establishment of war and economic crimes court in Liberia.
Amongst the many recommendations, they are requesting the US congressional to prevail on US President Joe Biden to make a public statement on the establishment of the court in Liberia which they believe will signal the US seriousness about giving justice and ending the practice of impunity in Liberia.
Dr. Allen white, former Chief of Investigations, Special Court for Sierra Leone said, “If we can do it for Sierra Leone we can equally do it for Liberia. Funding should not be an obstacle we should be able to step in and help do that.”
Appearing through a virtual hearing were, syndi Martin-Kepyei, Executive Director of the Movement for Justice in Liberia (MOJUL), Jerome V. Verdier, Esq, Executive Director, International Justice Group and former Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Liberia, Michael Mueller, Chairman of the Global Initiative for Justice and Dr. Alan W. White, former Chief of Investigations, Special Court for Sierra Leone all made their position clear on the need for the court to be establish in Liberia.
Each of the witnesses informed Members of the Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress that increased pressure on the government of President George Weah for the establishment of war and economic crimes court would signal the U.S. government seriousness about justice for human rights.
The witnesses also recommended withholding of funding’s from the Liberian Government, reaching out to the administration of President George Weah and institute sanction against people involved with the war in keeping with the Global Magnisky Human Rights Accountability Act.
Jerome Verdier stated, “Funding is not the issue; the issue is there is no political will from the government. We have commitments from countries including Sweden to support the process so funding is not the issue.”
About the Global Magnitsky Act
The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act authorizes the President of the United States to block or revoke the visas of certain “foreign persons” (both individuals and entities) or to impose property sanctions on them. People can be sanctioned (a) if they are responsible for or acted as an agent for someone responsible for “extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,” or (b) if they are government officials or senior associates of government officials complicit in “acts of significant corruption.
The witnesses Testimonies
Madam syndi Martin-Kepyei Executive Director of the Movement for Justice in Liberia (MOJUL), informed committee that Liberia is at a very critical moment in time. Almost eighteen years since the cessation of civil conflicts and that the US is Liberia’s last hope based our relationship and as leader of the free world.
“Most survivors have reach points (boiling points) It is just a matter of time and not when. People will start taking the law into their own hands. WE speak not only for justice that is long over, but to protect the future from what the women and children of Liberia endured and contain to endure. I appear today on behalf of the Movement for Justice and the women and children to support the process leading to establishing the War and Economic Crime Court (WECC) in Liberia. We seek justice for the victims of the Liberian civil conflict. We seek justice for those who have departed this world seeking justice for their loved ones in Liberia.”
For his Part, Jerome V. Verdier, Esq, Executive Director, International Justice Group and former Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Liberia said, while it is true that the court is not a panacea to all the social – economic and political and governance problems of Liberia, the court, will mark the beginning of breaking the back of impunity in Liberia. He said impunity is well entrenched in the political culture of Liberia.
He said, a fair and credible process will help to reinstall and strengthen the rule of law in Liberia, fulfil Liberia’s international obligation to institute justice and punish crimes and victims and families and communities of victims will receive a measure of relief, healing and recovery when people are held accountable or brought to justice.
He said establishing the court will help in acknowledging the state of victimhood in the country and acknowledging the rights of victims to redress and contribute to durable peace and social healing generally as well as support and strengthen the capacity of local judicial actors and national judicial institutions.
He recommended that things that are to be done include draws Liberian government attention; Increased pressure on the Government of Liberia for the full Implementation of the TRC Report, especially the Establishment of the War and Economic Crimes court, A concurrence of the US Senate with the Resolution of Congress and bring increased political pressure on the government to take actions and act most appropriately.
For Michael Mueller, Chairman of the Global Initiative for Justice, Liberian yearns for Retributive Justice as well as Restorative Justice, in simple terms they want those who committed those heinous atrocities to be punished and the rule of law to return and equally applied to everyone.
“Without accountability, justice, and the rule of law no country can function properly, develop or prosper let alone encourage legitimate foreign direct investment. The establishment of a War Crimes and Economic Crimes Court must be established in the same manner as the Special Court for Sierra Leone by treaty with the Union Nations with.”
In his testimonies, Dr. Alan W. White, former Chief of Investigations, Special Court for Sierra Leone said, It is clear that the current administration is not serious about establishing the court, however, there have been public figures demanding the establishment of the War Crimes and Economic Crime Court, including Alex Cummings the leader of the Coalition of the Political Parties and other organizations such as the Liberian National Bar Association, Religious Leaders and Civil Society members.
“They want to bring an end of impunity, reestablish the rule, and hold those accountable for the atrocities committed during the civil wars. The people of Liberia want to move forward and see their country developed and prosper, however until the nation heals and reconciles with its past it will not happen.
“So, the demand for justice and accountability is loud and clear and the people of Liberia are demanding that those who committed the atrocities that led to the devastation of Liberia are held accountable, justice is delivered and those assets and monies stolen from their country are.”